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They often end up like this.
Dr. Rachel Scott: I was able to isolate the mutation in Niels' lungs that make him so contagious. And I introduced it to my vaccine. I injected myself with it about an hour ago, and then I breathed on an infected mouse, the same way that Niels used to breath on people as a way to kill them. If this works, if the mouse survives, in effect I'll be able to breathe the cure onto people.
Commander Tom Chandler: And so will anyone else that I give this new shot to, which means that we won't need any more labs, any more infrastructure, or planes. All our problems will be solved. Except one. Did you do it?
Dr. Rachel Scott: Oh, God. Are you really asking me this?
Commander Tom Chandler: That's exactly what I'm asking you.
Dr. Rachel Scott: The man who killed five billion people, including your wife and most of your crew's family, is dead. And now his lungs are gonna be used to save the rest of the people on this planet.
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It's After the End, humanity is on the brink of extinction. In a remote outpost somewhere, one man is still looking to reverse this situation. He toils away in a laboratory trying to cure the disease, fix the Earth's Magnetic field, change the weather, or even build a time machine to go back and prevent the apocalypse.

The Sole Surviving Scientist needn't be completely alone, he might have some soldiers guarding him, a few survivors he's generously allowed into his stronghold, even an assistant. Regardless of his company he's the only real scientist left (that we know of). Can overlap with Crazy Survivalist, in which case expect some truly inspired "Home Alone" Antics with Death Traps.

Often the scientist's efforts are fruitless and he descends into depression, madness or a macabre obsession with studying mankind's downfall.

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This trope is especially common in zombie fiction.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Bulma in the Dragon Ball Z Bad Future timeline. She invented a time machine to send Trunks to the past and find a way to kill the androids.
  • Senku Ishigami in Dr. Stone is a high school age science prodigy who takes it upon himself to use science to rebuild civilization thousands of years after an unknown apocalyptic event turned the entire world's population into stone.

    Comic Books 
  • Crossed: Generally averted due to the grim and/or deconstruction nature of the series but not entirely absent. Jack from ‘’Shrink’’ is an interesting version of this, a psychologist trying to study Crossed. The human antagonist of volume 3 claims to know of a convoy of these but it’s quickly revealed to the audience that he’s lying. Professor Nelson looks like an example of this given that before the apocalypse he spoke about something that sounds a lot like the Crossed virus and is hiding in a bunker afterwards with a rescue mission looking for him and his work, but he didn’t survive, and it’s never revealed if he was actually right with his theory. In Wish You Were Here, the narrator lampshades the absence of these after the first two years, noting that when they actually do find someone who might be The Immune if there was a movie they’d rush him to some bunker to make a vaccine out of his blood but there’s nowhere left to do that anymore.
  • Nei Rin in Star Wars: Legacy: Has shades of this, being more of a fugitive than a survivor but after the sith overthrow the Jedi, she spent years in the shadows trying to complete her terraforming work and find evidence to exonerate herself and the Jedi of having been behind its disastrous failure.
  • The Walking Dead:
    • Eugene Porter claims to be this when he encounters Rick's group. He tells them he is a scientist who knows what caused the zombie outbreak and is working on a way to combat it. However it is later revealed to be a lie, as Eugene only used this claim as a cover story to make himself seem important so stronger people with more practical skills for surviving the end of civilization would be willing to protect him
    • Alice Warren is a self-taught version of this (before the Zombie Apocalypse she was an interior design student) but makes a game, albeit futile effort at studying a captive zombie for clues to a way to prevent humans from reanimating after they die.
  • There was a 28 Days Later spin-off comic with a scientist who played a role in the creation of the Rage Virus. He admits this to a girl that he had escaped a holding facility with, and plans to atone by becoming one of these, being that he's one of the few people alive (maybe the only one) who knows anything about the virus and has the best chance of curing it. Unfortunately, she had lost her parents earlier during the initial outbreak, and lost her brother during the escape. Apparently learning that the guy she'd been helping was the root cause of those things is too much for her, so first she kisses him, then grabs his gun and shoots him. Then lets herself be killed by the soldiers pursuing them. So much for that.
  • B.P.R.D.: When the Bureau gets its new headquarters, a disaffected nuclear-proof bunker in the mountains, they find an old scientist whose been living there since its was shut down, writing down notes on a typewriter for so long the keys wore out and it punched holes in the paper, he was so far gone he didn't notice. He later releases an Eldritch Abomination into the base thinking it some kind of angelic creature.
  • The Narrator of Supergod, though he's already given up all hope and is just dictating an Apocalyptic Log to another Sole Surviving Scientist in another country.
  • Le Transperceneige: Alec Forrester was the scientist who first created the idea of perpetual motion (a train going non stop) which is keeping people alive during the Endless Winter, and remains onboard his creation, (one of them, anyway), keeping the engine maintained to ensure the survival of those onboard, while trying to stay out of the power struggles.
  • Just a Pilgrim: about a decade after the solar flare that killed nearly all fo the worlds people, and dried up the oceans, The main character stumbles across a Hidden Elf Village of these in the Marianas Trench, formerly the deepest known part of the Ocean. Oceanologists and NASA engineers who fled there right after the burn with a lot of genetic samples and a half-finished rocket ship, and have since been preparing for a Homeworld Evacuation.
  • 'Sweet Tooth' gives us Dr. Singh, who is a cross between this and Reluctant Mad Scientist, experimenting on human/animal hybrids while trying to find an origin and cure for The Plague. While he does experiment on the hero as a hesult of this goal, unusually, he ends up joining him after suffering a Heel Realization.
  • Y: The Last Man gives us Allison, who is trying to save humanity though cloning after nearly all the men on Earth die. Other scientists with similar efforts are her own parents, and the geneticist Hartle twins.

    Film - Animation 
  • 9: The Scientist in the backstory, after watching a dictator use his inventions to destroy humanity, survived long enough to create the Stitchpunks and allow some form of life to endure.
  • The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello: Dr. Claude Belgnon is a scientist in a society suffering from a plague. His research involves finding a cure (partially out of a desire for fame) and becomes more morally dubious as the story's progresses.
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    Film — Live-Action 
  • Dr. Logan from Day of the Dead (1985) is a prime example. His obsessive pursuit of understanding the undead was a harsh critique on the pursuit of scientific knowledge without practical application. He does manage to train a zombie to be peaceful and empathic, and even remember parts of his past life.But when confronted, he didn't bring up practical applications (like using "tame" zombies to perform tasks out in the open without fear of being eaten, and even potentially influence an entire horde's behavior) but simply raved on about a need to understand, indicating his focus was on satisfying his own curiosity rather then accomplishing anything productive.
    • Notably, Logan has two saner colleagues, Sarah and Fisher, who are focused on finding a cure but make significantly less progress than he does.
  • Before Logan, in Dawn of the Dead (1978), there was Dr. Rausch, who appeared on several TV emergency broadcasts, describing the zombies abilities and behaviors for anyone still listening and proposes feeding them any dead bodies that don't reanimate as a way to distract them.
  • Land of the Dead: Although he's more of a fighter than a scientist, Riley Denbro created a zombie-killing APC that provides a lot of security to his community. Riley has become disillusioned with the Fantastic Caste System around him and wants to strike out on his own, but his skills are too valuable and his group's leader won't let him go.
  • Doomsday: Dr. Kane started out as one of these among the quarantined population of Scotland, seeking a cure to The Plague, but suffered from both a Despair Event Horizon and a Face–Heel Turn and by the time we meet him, has completely abandoned science in favor of ruling as a feudal dictator.
  • U.S. Army Virologist Dr. Robert Neville (who hopes to cure the zombie-like creatures that have nearly engulfed humanity) from the film version of I Am Legend is about as alone as you can get.
    • So is Robert Neville in The Omega Man, an adaptation of the same novel.
  • Air follows two technicians (Norman Reedus and Djimon Hounsou) After the End as they maintain a bunker filled with human popsicles so that the sleepers (scientists key to restoring civilization once the atmosphere is breathable again) won't die in their sleep.
  • In the Laurence Fishburne film The Colony (2013), set in an ice age brought on by malfunctioning weather machines, we see one of these on a video feed. He managed to find and fix one of those machines to bring about a thaw in the icy terrain but his group needs seeds (which the protagonists have) to grow food and start over.
  • Another ice age apocalypse example is Wilford, the Big Bad of Snowpiercer; who built the train that serves as a refuge from the blizzard and keeps it running at the cost of oppressing hundreds. It’s played with though as Wilford supposedly wanted to build the train to go around the world before there ever was an apocalypse, meaning that it was only by accident that he had the technology to save humanity and install himself as its leader.
  • Zombieland: Double Tap: a cutaway scene shows a scientist in eking out an existence in a hi-tech lab several years after the end of civilization before being attacked and apparently killed by an evolved Hawking zombie (using a Borrowed Biometric Bypass from the body of a second scientist).
  • Interstellar doesn't start out this way, with lots of brilliant minds, recourses and infrastructure dedicated to the homeworld evacuation, but by the film’s last act, on Earth NASA is crumbling, along with society, with the death of their leader and the reveal that his research giving them hope was a Motivational Lie but Murph Cooper and her colleague Getty press on trying to find a way that will let their ships escape the gravitational pull. Meanwhile, in space, the last of the scientists is Amelia, who can’t figure out a way to help those still on Earth and is alone and prepared to set up a new colony with genetic samples on the one life-bearing planet that the expedition found.
  • In Blast from the Past Christopher Walken’s character thinks he’s one, after fleeing into a bunker with his family for thirty years during the outbreak of the Cuban missile crisis, but the fact that the world didn’t end in nuclear war averts this and sees it played for laughs.
  • In Cyborg, a group of doctors, the last ones in the country, are working on a cure for The Plague in an old CDC facility. Prior to the movie's beginning, they created the titular cyborg to venture into dangerous territory and collect data for their experiments.
  • The future in-a-bubble scenes from The Fountain appear to be this trope, although the oncologist is more concerned with staying alive until he reaches a far-off star than with restoring the Earth.
  • Zac Hobson in The Quiet Earth, a scientist who was working on Project Flashlight. A malfunction caused almost everyone on Earth to simply disappear. He goes a little crazy in the first part of the movie, but after meeting two other survivors he tries to destroy the laboratory where the experiment took place so it can't happen again. It does anyway.
  • The Netflix movie Io takes the interesting step of having different scientists taking two different directions for this after most of the Earths’ atmosphere becomes deadly due to pollution. First, we have a surprisingly low-tech version of this in the form of Sam Walden (continuing a project started by her dead father, who also broadcast messages urging lingering humans not to leave Earth) who tried to clear out the toxic atmosphere by raising and training bees to pollinate enough oxygen producing plants. By the time Sam succeeds she may be the last person left on Earth and it’s unclear if anyone else will come back. On a larger scale, the prologue mentioned that as the atmosphere first got bad a few other examples of this trope started building a power station to harvest energy from other planets instead, but things got so bad that power station turned into an escape colony orbiting IO, with the people there having little faith in Sam's project and looking for new planets to colonize.
  • The Mosquito Coast: Allie wants to be one of these but lacks the apocalypse to make it real, so he pretends there was a nuclear war to make his engineering abilities seem more valuable.
  • 12 Monkeys: as a framing device there’s a small cabal of these working to find a cure for the plague in a underground bunkers who send the protagonist back in time to get a pure sample of the virus.
  • Abby in Grindhouse: Planet Terror, or he would have been if he hadn't gotten killed. This is lampshaded in the movie.
    Cherry Darling: I don't suppose anyone else here is a bio-chemical engineer?
  • The scientist holed up in the high school-turned research facility in Carriers. He was originally part of a team trying to find a cure for the virus. Unfortunately, the best they managed was a serum that kept the patient alive for an extra three days, and that was in a worldwide joint effort. By the time the main characters find him, he's showing obvious signs of infection, and is just about to mercy kill the remaining survivors in the school, along with himself.
  • World War Z: First we have Fassbach who has a decent idea and strategy how to identify the virus and maybe find a cure for the zombie plague, but proves to be a Decoy Protagonist. Later we meet four surviving scientists at a WHO outpost who play this trope straighter; they make mention of having tried and failed to infect the zombies with lethal diseases and while the idea to get humans sicker to see if the zombies ignore them comes from another source, they help carry it out and the success of that idea turns the tide.
  • Daybreakers; In an interesting variation of the scenario there’s a vampire plague and humans are in hiding while vampire society is strong but struggling due to lack of blood. Edward one of the vampire scientist working to produce a blood substitute shifts his efforts to creating a cure, after an encounter with the human resistance. He’s hardly the sole surviving scientist but the sole one on the right side that we see. The film Has a ray of hope ending as his effort succeed and could be widespread
  • Independence Day: While the work that Dr. Okun and his team do, along with their disheveled appearances scream this trope, they’ve been like that before the alien invasion started. Dr. Isaacs becomes a more literal version of this when all of the others are killed or incapacitated, although his role afterwards isn’t that huge.
  • Pandorum: Nadia is a biologist who helped collect Earth's biosphere on the colonization ship. When she wakes up to find the ship infested by cannibals, she guards the area her work is gathered and works on an (incorrect, it turns out) theory about where the Hunters came from. Notably Nadia probably isn't the only scientist left but any others are still cryogenically frozen.
  • The Day After: Joe Huxley is a university science teacher who monitors radiation after the nuclear war to see when it will be safe to go outside and also tries to contact others on the radio.
  • Night of the Comet: A small group of these (who got a minor dose of comet radiation even with their preparedness, and thus are trying to stave off their inevitable doom by any means necessary) becomes the antagonists for the final act.
  • The Day of the Triffids: Marine Biologist Dr. Goodwin becomes this by accident, when while simply trying to fight off the attacking plant creatures, he discovers that salt water kills them and quickly moves to work on this.
  • Subverted in State Of Emergency: Where it initially looks like one of these is appearing to experiment on one of the survivors of the zombie outbreak near the end only for him to tell them that his test have determined that they're not infected, that the localized outbreak has been dealt with and that their free to go.
  • 2012: Helmsley has some of this as an expert on the environmental factors threatening to destroy the world. He zigzags this by having figured everything out years before the apocalypse hit and getting government backing while making preparations, only for things to get strained when those preparations couldn't solve as much as expected. He spends most of the film's final act (assisted by colleagues Scotty and West) clashing with authority figures about how to implement the life-saving Arks.
  • Cooties Doug the Cloudcuckoolander science teacher fits this role a lot, figuring out what’s going on and speculating on the potential for a cure.
  • Planet of the Apes: An interesting non-human example is Corneiluis and Zira arguably in the third film when they escape their nuclear war and go back in time
  • The Midnight Sky: Augustine Lofthouse survives a world-ending cataclysm at his Arctic research station while trying to contact astronauts in space and give the coordinates he's programmed, which will allow them to reach another planet with the limited fuel aboard their ship.
  • The Virus 1980: Zigzagged in both the film and the book. Most of the surviving humans left in the world were stationed at scientific research stations in Antarctica. Still only a few have skills that are actually relevant for preventing The End of the World as We Know It.
    • Yoshizumi is a seismologist who realizes that a series of earthquakes might set off an automated nuclear missile system and kill them all.
    • Major Carter helped build that automated missile system and accompanies Yoshizumi to America to try and disarm it.
    • Dr. Latour creates a vaccine for The Plague that wiped out the rest of humanity. He injects Carter, Yoshizumi, and those who flee for areas that are safe from the missiles but still contain the eponymous deadly virus.

    Literature 
  • Edmond Haminton has a story where all the humanity has died except for a single immortal scientist. See Came Back Wrong for a description of his efforts.
  • Divergent: the whole plot turns out to have been caused by the Bureau, a society of these conducting experiments on the people of the city in an effort to fix perceived genetic damage although there goal ultimately isn't treated with much sympathy.
  • In the Doctor Who spin-off novel The Eyeless, the Doctor visits a planet where most of the population was wiped out in an incomprehensible catastrophe. Professor Jeffip does his best to fill the Sole Surviving Scientist role.
  • Down To A Sunless Sea: The plane that's crossing the Atlantic when the nuclear war that wipes out practically the entire world has four scientists from an energy conference aboard, who are thrust into this role as they scramble to figure out where the radiation fallout will travel to, where it would be safe to land, and what other long term effects the missiles might have.
  • In The Girl With All the Gifts, Dr. Caldwell is that, because although quite competent, she wasn't among the scientists chosen to research the virus that caused the Zombie Apocalypse. Those scientist then disappeared, leaving only Dr. Caldwell to do the job.
    • the prequel novel, The Boy on the Bridge, centers around those scientists and their military escort before they disappeared.
  • ''The Host: Doc is the only member of the group with the skills to work remove the Hosts from people as a way of fighting the invasion. That being said he’s consistently unsucsesful (killing both the hosts and their subjects in a way similar to a lot of examples on this page related to zombie fiction), although unlike many examples on this page he eventually gets better at that (with Wanda’s help) and survives, still being able to do it well. All the other scientists aren’t really dead but they are prisoners losing their consciousness. He’s also a bit of a Closest Thing We Got since he seems to be more of a Back-Alley Doctor than a trained research scientist.
  • In ''The Passage Dr. Leer feels like one of these for having been involved in the project that started everything and surviving the initial outbreak but unusually for this trope he died during the Time Skip without working on anything that might try to save humanity in the aftermath.
  • The Postman: there’s some of these at Corvalis, although they aren’t nearly as advanced as they try to get the outside world to think.
  • Safehold: several of these are responsible for the backstory, in the aftermath of a war against alien invaders who slaughtered all of mankind except for a couple colony ships. They had a schism about whether or not to get rid of all technology and rewrite history to deter the other survivors from eventually striking back against the aliens, or whether doing so would just cause their descendants to re-establish technology on their own in several generations and go back to the stars, unprepared for any encounter with the aliens. By the present day, the populace remembers the former group as angels and saviors, and the later group as fallen angels, although this viewpoint changes by the final book.
  • Sixth Column: The book begins with Major Ardmore arriving at a secret base hiding 200 top scientists during the borderline genocidal invasion of America. He finds all of the scientists dead from the testing of a Doomsday Device except for a young physicist, a mathematician, and a biologist, although those three manage to finish the device and use it against the invaders.
  • Sky Jumpers: Long before Hope was born, Frank Hudson was a combination of this and a Child Prodigy in the years after World War III. He was only twelve years old, but used his library of science books to help his group of 26 survivors survive, with things like ammonia refrigeration systems and a telegraph system powered by electrolyte batteries.
  • Station Eleven: Although the Story Within a Story follows one, who is also a Science Hero, in the actual story, The Plague spread too fast for anyone to work on an effective cure or vaccine, although many surviving engineers wanting to re-establish society are trying to reestablish electricity (and even the internet) in the decades that follow, with limited success.
  • Undead on Arrival: Dr Judy Bloch, the last doctor in town keeps a couple chained up zombies (with their jawbones removed to prevent an outbreak if they get loose) in her basement, which she studies trying to find a way to understand and potentially stop their herd migratory tendencies. The town still isn’t happy when they find out but Novak is able to keep them from lynching her. She also knows enough about the nature of zombie transformation to recognize a Zombie Infectee, and tries to keep the gene pool for getting too small (including by getting herself pregnant).
  • Variable Star: Andrew Hamilton survives the destruction of the solar system onboard the Faster-Than-Light Travel ship he recently invented. He's is quick to consider ways to use it to rescue as many people as possible from the colonies that will be hit by solar radiation, although it's someone else who proposes just putting his engine in a bigger ship.
  • When Worlds Collide: Most of the surviving characters are scientists who were working for the Homeworld Evacuation project.
  • In Z for Zachariah, Ann Burden is living alone in a valley that escaped the destruction of the rest of the world by nuclear war. Eventually she encounters John Loomis, a scientist who invented a special suit that makes the wearer immune to radiation. As far as either of them know, he is he last remaining scientist on earth.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100: Dr. Tsing inside Mount Weather is a fairly sadistic version of this and her actions largely spark a war that wipes out her community. In the backstory we have Becca, who invented the AI which destroyed the world, but surviving in space also worked on methods to counter it (correctly deducing it would be a threat again) and invented a lot of stuff relevant during the main story.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (2003), the Final Five were Earth-1's sole surviving scientists after a nuclear holocaust, who attempted to Fling a Light into the Future, only to succumb to the next iteration of the cycle of violence at the hands of their progeny.
  • Crusade: Dr. Chambers is the Medical officer aboard a ship working to Find the Cure! in time to keep everyone on earth from dying, and thus the one most likely to make the actual medical breakthroughs for their mission.
  • The Day of the Triffids (2009) gives us Brian Cox's character, the father of the main character. He is introduced experimenting on the Triffids, trying to make a new strain of the species which will launch sterile spores, and end their infestation. He does succeed in his efforts, but it's only a Hope Spot, as a subsequent attack kills him and destroys his work.
  • Day 5: in a world where sleep has mysteriously become lethal, the first season features a group of scientists led by Dr Abrams and Lex who are testing a drug that keeps sleepers from dying but has failed to save over two hundred test subjects so far.
  • Doctor Who: Professor Yana in "Utopia", until the Doctor shows up. The sole scientist at the end of the universe trying to get a rocket ship to work, so he can send everyone to Utopia.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: In the episode "You're No Fun Anymore", where alien blancmanges turn everyone into Scotsmen in a plot to take over the Earth, a scientist and his bimbo stay out of their reach and search for the reason of the transformation of everyone into Scotsmen.
  • Jeremiah: The main characters father and his assistant Libby look for a cure to The Plague that killed everyone over the age of thirteen from within the Ravenrock Mountain bunker, while at Thunder Mountain, Meghan does the same, using herself as a Professor Guinea Pig. Theo also sheltered and groomed a bunch of nerds from her school to be this on a small-scale, such as by making a working generator.
  • The Last Ship: Rachel and Tophet are this for a while in season one as the only scientists working on a cure aboard an isolated ship. Gradually, we meet various other scientists (some good, some evil) making similar efforts in quarantine zones, some of whom provide aid to the crew of the Nathan James, such as Julius Hunter, Michael Neustadter and Dr. Milowsky.
  • The Last Train features Jonathan, who built the cyro chambers that let the main characters survive, is this when he reappears in the future, forty years older.
  • The Lottery: In a world that’s spent six years ravaged by an infertility plague, we have Allison and her assistant, who’ve managed to fertilize a hundred new eggs. The plot (and the title) comes from the governments decision about what to do with them.
  • The Outer Limits: some are alluded to in the episode The Vaccine who created the titular vaccine for survivors of The Plague (although interestingly it is lethal to anyone who is The Immune). None of them appear in person, and they're represented by a dying soldier delivering samples to various groups of survivors.
  • ''Revolution: Most of the scientists behind the energy experiment which ended up causing the worldwide blackout are still out there, with several attempting to find a way to fix things and restart the power, while others strive to make sure that the power stays turned off.
  • The Walking Dead
    • Dr. Edwin Jenner is a depressed and ultimately suicidal scientist found alone in the CDC bunker by the other survivors.
    • Later in the series, the group encounters a character named Eugene Porter, who claims to be a scientist searching for a cure to the zombie outbreak. Ultimately, this amounts to nothing, because, like in the comics, Eugene is lying to make people protect him. However, he is pretty good at MacGyvering and making things like batteries and new bullets, which proves useful amid the apocalyptic landscape.
    • There's also Milton, a scientist in Woodbury who experiments on the zombies, trying to bring out memories of their past lives and find a way to condition them.
  • The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Catherine Weaver is an unusual version of this who with her shadowiness, methods and scientist schtick is doing a lot that fits this before the actual apocalypse due to time travel. Also unusually she’s a robot.
  • Snowpiercer
    • Melanie, Bennett and Avi are the ones who keep the train running, calculating things like what speeds it can safely go through the winter, and Bennett and Melanie apparently had major roles in designing and building the train in the first place.
    • Dr. Klimpt, head of "The Drawers" is a former research scientist, and its eventually revealed that he isn't just freezing prisoners in a not quite unconscious state out of malice or For Science! but because he's been entailed with mastering Human Popsicle technology for a Sleeper Ship to save someone if worst comes to worse and the train breaks down, but has yet to master the technology with the recourses onboard.
    • Since surviving the Freeze onboard Big Alice, the Headwoods have perfected a method of instantly healing frostbite injuries and are implied to have experimented on the Ambiguously Human Icy Bob
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): The episode "Quarantine" features a scientist placed in the position of being the only person with the skills to save the day because of society's progression while he was a Human Popsicle. Matthew Forman is awoken from cryo-sleep solely to help a utopian society that ordinarily shuns weapons technology destroy an approaching invasion ship with his Kill Sat expertise.
  • Z Nation The show begins by showing one, Dr. Merch, working hard on a vaccine using prisoners as test subjects with a pair of soldiers trying to keep the zombies out. Surprisingly, she succeeds then and there, but the remainder of the show gets taken up by the long journey of other characters trying to get her patient somewhere where someone can actually do something about all of that, while Merch herself gets Put on a Bus and fades into the background. Sun Mei in the final season is another one of these who shows up to intercept the main character and try to harvest the cure from him with a bunch of soldiers.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Maid RPG. In the replay "Maids at the End of the World", there was a worldwide nuclear war that wiped out civilization. The Master is Masami Onji, an Omnidisciplinary Scientist dedicated to finding a way to restore the Earth.

    Theatre 
  • In the play R.U.R. (a.k.a. Rossum's Universal Robots), after the robots kill off humanity, the sole survivor is Alquist. It is a significant plot point that Alquist is actually not a scientist at all (he was the clerk of the works at the robot factory); the robots want him to figure out how to allow them to reproduce, and he doesn't have the knowledge or skill to do so.

    Video Games 
  • In Metroid Prime 3, on the planet of Bryyo, you can read the journal entries of the last surviving scientist, as he tries to keep the world from suffering an environmental collapse. He fails.
  • Belthasar from Chrono Trigger spent his time After the End building the Epoch which would allow anyone to travel back in time and avoid the Earth's destruction by Lavos.
  • The Adobe Flash game One Chance is all about this - you play a scientist trying to fix an accidentally lethal cure for cancer as it slowly infects everyone in the world.
  • In another Flash game, Lab of the Dead, the main character is a sole surviving researcher following in the footsteps of the original dead scientists.
  • Adam Fenix is Sera's Sole Surviving Scientist in the Gears of War series. The Locust get to Azura before Delta. They manage to kill everyone on the island except Adam, and they're literally at his door before being stopped.
  • The Institute in Fallout 4 are an entire society of this, leaning towards the macabre, depending on the Player's interpretation and actions.
    • In the same game, The Institute's enemies, the Brotherhood of Steel has a couple figures who also fill this role: Quinlan (who tries to recreate old tech by retrieving documents from before the fall), and Neriah (who works on radiation therapy drugs with ingredients form the bodies of dead organics).
  • Dr. Curling in Fallout 2 saw himself as this while working on a virus that would wipe out all of the mutated people on the surface to make way for the people who'd survived in Vaults and government bunkers to come out and reclaim the country. Depending on the players choice, he can be talked into a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Doc Henry from Fallout: New Vegas was a contemporary of Dr. Curling who wanted to cure the mutants instead of eradicate them. In the decades since, following the collapse of his former faction, he became a high-functioning Frontier Doctor, using his expertise to cure one disease plaguing The Wasteland at a time, largely just because he can.
  • Fallout 76: Had this role taken by Keesha McDermot (a former science teacher who worked to purify the water from the fallout) and Miguel Caldera (who built robots they put to effect in trying to rebuild), of The Responders and Grant McNamara (an engineer who restored a hydroelectric dam, dismantled or installed various futuristic security systems and making devices to kill the Scorchbeasts) of The The Appalachian Brotherhood of Steel.
  • In Half-Life 2 there's not a whole lot of anything left, much less scientists. It's unclear if the Resistance Science Team has more than Doctors Kleiner, Vance, Magnusson, Mossman, and Freeman.
  • At the end of Breath of Death VII's final dungeon, you encounter a labcoat-wearing human survivor who uses the crystals you found in Ruins of the Modern Age to travel back in time to prevent the nuclear apocalypse from happening in the first place. But not before a sudden attack by a designated Final Boss from nowhere.
  • In The Last of Us, the Fireflies are the only people that're still searching for a cure for the fungal infection that has almost wiped out mankind by the time of the game. Like most of humanity at this point they're on their last legs, their previous attempts have all failed, and their latest test subject (Deuteragonist Ellie) wouldn't survive the required surgery. Examining their theories and deductions also reveals that their entire scientific approach is pretty much bullshit, so their chances of succeeding were practically nil even before they tried to kill the surrogate daughter of a trigger-happy Papa Wolf and got wiped out to a man in the ensuing Roaring Rampage of Rescue. That said, the game only follows the very narrow viewpoint of two people on their way across the continental United States, with next to no word on how the rest of the world is doing, which means there might be other groups looking for a cure somewhere in the Americas, not to mention on other continents.

    Webcomics 
  • Othar in Girl Genius has been that but managed to go back in time (according to his Twitter, anyway).
    • Tarvek in the same Twitter may have been a better example, since he sent Othar back and was much closer to the problem (while Othar metaphorically "slept through it").

    Western Animation 
  • Vandal Savage ends up a sole surviving scientist in the episode "Hereafter" from Justice League. Not to mention the sole surviving human being. Turns out a few millennia alone with nothing but himself for company was all that was needed to show Savage the folly for his thirst for power. He actually built a spaceship to allow himself to escape Earth, but once he finished it he decided that he didn't deserve to have such a happy ending. Fortunate, too, since this meant that he was still around to help a time-displaced Superman return to the present and prevent his past self from killing humanity.

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